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Recommended FREE tools for remote working (aimed at Freelancers/SMBs)

Adam Lewis | 19 March 2020 | 13:56

I wanted to share this to try and do something useful for anyone struggling with COVID-19. As an owner of a digital sales and marketing agency, I take for granted that everything we do is online and so deploying the team to 100% remote working is a relatively smooth process. 

This is aimed at small businesses and freelancers who are still adjusting. In this article I am sharing recommended free tools and other tips that can make life a bit easier when remote working.

FILE SHARING

The ability to share files and access files remotely, whether they are video files, photos or documents, is crucial. We use Google Drive (£0). The Google Drive is free (up to 15 GB of storage) and it allows you to store files in folders online so they can be easily accessed anywhere, on any device (mobile, tablet, desktop). 

What we love most about Google Drive is the ability to actually edit a document (such as a Google Doc, Google Sheet or Google Slides) at the same time between multiple people. It is all saved in real time and there's no concern that your changes will be lost. So Google Drive is the fantastic free tool to get off the ground quickly in terms of file sharing.

MESSAGING TOOLS

We'll talk about video in a minute, but one of the most important things that we missed when remote working is the ability to have quick chats and confirm things quickly. That's quite difficult to achieve by phone calls. You don't want to be phoning someone every five minutes asking very small questions. Equally, it might not be a big enough issue to convene video meeting. 

We recommend Slack. (£0) This is free for small teams. You will love the Meeting Bot!

VIDEO CONFERENCING

Clearly, video conferencing is very, very important to allow that face-to-face time with people. We use two systems. We recommend Google Hangout (£0). It is browser based and free.

Google Hangouts is very, very easy to deploy. As the organiser, all you have to do is share a URL to the people that you want to talk to and the other person simply clicks on it and they enter the meeting via their browser. It is free for everyone to join.

Our preferred system for video conferencing is called Zoom (£0) The free version gives you calls up to 40 minutes. It’s brilliant quality but requires an app at both ends.

A NOTE ON KIT (NOT NECESSARILY FREE)

Wired Mic vs Wireless Mic

At the end of the day - most computers have a built in microphone (£0).

That said, I find a separate microphone with a wired connection to your computer via USB guarantees best sound. I use a wired Yeti Blue Microphone  (£100) and an external speaker for my home-set-up. The benefit is that when I am on camera there are no headphones etc - so it feels more natural. I sometimes use the Logitech H570e Wired Headset (£69) which is awesome as well.

Wireless microphones, such as Apple Airpods work as well via bluetooth as well.

Webcam

Again most new laptops have a webcam built in (£0). If you don’t have one built in or want to ramp up the quality, I recommend the Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam  (£45) - it is brilliant.

Lighting

Make sure you are facing a window (£0) so that your face is lit by daylight to maximise the quality of the video. Failing that, get a lamp with a daylight bulb in it (£8) and angle it behind your webcam.

So hopefully these tips are useful for you and your business.

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